One of the most gripping books I have read in a long while is a post-apocalyptic wild ride called Luminous and Ominous, by independent author Noah K. Mullette-Gillman.
"If you had three days’ warning of the end of civilization and a safe place to hide: What would you take with you? Who would you save? And who would you leave behind?"
Luminous and Ominous is classified as science-fiction, but it also fits well into the horror genre. It's not for the faint of heart. The story is both creepy and beautiful. Some of the scenes are challenging, but the experience is worth all of the stomach-churning torture. If you're not a fan of the horror genre, it may not be your thing, but, since it's also a story about the human condition, there are aspects of it that we can all relate to. This book is full of surprises. It is well written and perfectly paced.
I recently participated in an online book club discussion of the book, and chatted with the author. He was kind enough to allow me to interview him. I hope you enjoy the interview that follows. If you're looking for a great read, check out Luminous and Ominous. It's just $2.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Interview with Noah K. Mullette-Gillman
COOKIE'S MOM: Noah, thank-you for agreeing to do this interview. Would you please describe your book, Luminous and Ominous?
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I’m delighted to take part. It is such a luxury to be able to have a discussion like this with a reader who has enjoyed and involved herself in my work!
Luminous and Ominous is a story about a man who knows the end of the world is coming. He finds himself with three days warning and he has to use that time to get everything and everyone that he wants to save down into an old fallout shelter.
There isn’t enough room for everyone that he cares about. There isn’t enough time to properly prepare. He has to leave some people behind.
It then follows him and his friends through a year spent living underground in that shelter.
In the second half of the book, Henry and two other survivors walk through the alien jungle - that has taken the place of Upstate New York - trying to survive and come to grips with the decisions that they’ve made.
On the one hand it is a high-concept adventure story, but I hope it also comes across as a very personal story.
COOKIE'S MOM: Please tell us about the story’s main antagonist, Cornucopia Blue.
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Cornucopia Blue is an alien life-form. It usually expresses itself as something like our plants or vegetables. In fact, a single seed of The Cornucopia contains a whole eco-system. A tree might grow monsters. The monsters fire their seeds into you, and then the next generation gestate in your body. Its fruit then pushing its way out amongst your hair.
It’s a terrible thing! But the Cornucopia is also more beautiful than the life on Earth. It is more complicated, more graceful, more varied. It’s purple and blue and takes your breath away, even as it overwhelms the life on Earth and doesn’t leave any room left for the green vegetation we know.
It wants to live more than Terran life does.
COOKIE'S MOM: Noah, you pose a challenging question with this book: "If you had three days’ warning of the end of civilization and a safe place to hide: What would you take with you? Who would you save? And who would you leave behind?" Will the reader be better equipped to answer this question after reading Luminous and Ominous?
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Well, it is always easier to answer a question when you’ve been given a chance to think about it. I have had the conversation with a number of people. I present the question and then watch them try to answer it. At first, they always seem to have a very easy time, but as they roll it over in their heads it gets harder, more complicated. It really is an impossible situation. It would be a terrible weight for anyone to have to live with.
COOKIE'S MOM: I like the way you included references to some of our culture’s icons throughout the book. What was your purpose in including these references?
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I have two thoughts about why I did that.
The first is that I wanted this end of the world to be personal. I didn’t want just a generic group of people facing obstacles and struggling to survive. I wanted to stick a pole in the ground, place them at a specific age, a specific background. When my friends and I get together we discuss movies, music, books, and our culture. I wanted the characters in my book to have that richness and specificity to them.
As for the second reason, you may recall a scene later in the book when Henry comes across a box of old DVDs. The alien plants have digested the cardboard and packaging, and left just the shiny discs covered in their purple vines. I likened this to Henry’s memory of having seen the ruins in South America, the stone buildings covered in trees and vines. I wanted to say that OUR culture has as much validity. Luke Skywalker is as important as Quetzalcoatl. Prince, U2, and Radiohead are our pyramids and ziggurats. They deserve just as much respect. By according it to them, we accord it to ourselves.
COOKIE'S MOM: I know you’re fond of the post-apocalyptic genre. On your website, you speak about growing up in the United States at the height of the Cold War, when people fully expected to witness the end of the world. How did you envision this might come to pass? Do you see Luminous and Ominous as a purely fantastical or a truly plausible account of the end of the world, or does it lie somewhere in between?
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I’ve done my best to make the event seem as real as possible. I used real locations to give it an authentic flavor.
But the truth is that I don’t care if it could really happen or not. What I do care about is whether or not the crisis is a faithful and real psychological journey. The world ends all of the time. People that we care about pass away. We lose our homes or our jobs. Relationships end. We will, more than once in our lives, discover that the world has ended. It will feel every bit as traumatic as if a comet fell from the sky and brought voracious aliens.
I’ve been through Ragnarock. I know what it’s like when a radioactive bomb explodes and flattens civilization. I’ve been in love and lost. I come from a divorced home. My grandparents are all dead. I’ve had many pets die. I had to leave my childhood home. College ended and I couldn’t live with all of my friends any more. This is what matters, not whether the dead will walk again or if the literal bomb will ever fall!
By following characters through an end of the world struggle, we can help ourselves survive.
COOKIE'S MOM: You are currently working on a sequel to Luminous and Ominous, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. What other books would you recommend to people who have enjoyed Luminous and Ominous?
NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Well, first of all I do also have a novella available: The White Hairs.
Some of my favorite books include:
- Stephen R Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series
- Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist
- and Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos series
Some of the newer works that I have really enjoyed include:
- Carlos Caggiani’s Tracks and Horizons
- Valmore Daniels’ Forbidden The Stars
- and D. P Prior’s Thanatos Rising